Bellator: Dynamite 2 - Prelims Update
The relationship between Shamrock FC's Jesse Finney and Bellator President Scott Coker is well documented and goes back to the days when Coker ran the beloved Strikeforce.
Last summer, their trusted partnership brought live national TV fights to the Gateway City for the first time in five years. Not since Strikeforce's Henderson vs "Babalu" Sobral 2 card on December of 2010 had local fans had the opportunity to attend a big time fight show with a nationally touring fight promotion.
Traditionally, the undercard for these fights have been sourced from local talent and with it comes the opportunity to fight in front of thousands of hometown fans at the Scottrade Center. It also can serve as a launchpad for one's fight career, such is the case for another former Strikeforce undercard participant, Tyron Woodley.
That opportunity paid off big time for Woodley, who impressed Coker quite a bit in his local fight and was able to graduate up to a full-time deal. Woodley fought through the promotion's welterweight ranks and eventually fought for their title. Later, he was absorbed by the UFC, and after many years with the company, will compete for a UFC title against another Strikeforce-vet Robbie Lawler.
For three Shamrock FC athletes, opportunity has already presented itself. Shamrock FC champions: Rudy Bears, Jordan Howard and Rebecca Ruth were given multi-fight deals after winning and defending their respective Shamrock FC belts. Heavyweight Bobby Brents could be next with a win on May 28th. Brents won his heavyweight title last December and with a title defense will secure a guaranteed deal with Bellator.
When Bellator returns on June 24th for Dynamite 2, another lucky athlete will get a fast track to the big time.
"We're going to hand out a long-term, Bellator contract to an undercard fighter for one outstanding performer." Finney said. "We're just trying to give back. Last time there was talk about it, now it's done. Shamrock and Bellator are going to pick someone from the undercard, and they'll get a deal that night, right away."
Ruth, out of 21st Century in Pacific, made the most of her opportunity securing a main card TV fight with her first contract fight. Ruth dominated Lena Ovchynnikova at Bellator 150, battering the Ukranian for three intense rounds ultimately winning a decision.
When an announcement of a Bellator return started circulating, Ruth's name was one of the first to come up. With several main card fights yet to be announced Ruth's ticket could still be punched, and the "Ruthless" one will be back in action.
Bears, like Ruth also competed on a Bellator televised main card, ultimately losing to Michael "Venom" Page.
The return of 'Iron' Mike
News came last week that Bellator cut off ties with and released its lightweight champion, Will Brooks.
High Ridge native Michael Chandler (14-3) will now fight Patricky Freire (16-7) at the June Dynamite card for the vacant strap. The fight is a rematch of the Bellator 157 co-main event.
Chandler won the lightweight title in November 2011 with a stoppage of UFC lightweight title challenger Eddie Alvarez. Chandler defended the belt two times, but then lost it in a split-decision to Alvarez at Bellator 106.
Freire, from Brazil, has won back-to-back fights with a knockout of Ryan Couture in January, then a unanimous decision over Kevin Souza a month ago at Bellator 152 in Italy.
The card continues to evolve as we inch closer to June 24th. It's rumored that as many as 12 pro fights will make up the prelims, with equal number of fights being fought in the cage and the ring, and in the case of the latter, it will be a mix of kickboxing, and MMA.
Recent announcements include the addition of Nikki Smith and Invicta FC-vet Ashley Cummins in a women's strawweight fight. Cummins competed recently for a shot to get into the Ultimate Fighter 23 house, and despite a brilliant first round, lost via TKO in the second. Since the fight last January, Cummins has committed to dropping to the 105-pound division.
Red-hot Rashard Lovelace, out of Hahn's MMA, will make his third trip to Scottrade to fight Garrett Mueller. Lovelace defeated another Garrett, Garret Gross, with a first round TKO in March in his only non-Bellator fight as a professional. Lovelace has three first round stoppages in just under five minutes of total cage time.
Popular welterweight Tyler Claussen has replaced Clay Mitchell and will now face "Sensei" Brad Jones from the War Room. Claussen is coming off a March loss to Matt Helm and brings dangerous power punching to the cage with him.
Fresh from his win at Shamrock FC in April, Steve Mann will hope to erase the bad memories of his first two Bellator opportunities and see his hand raised. Mann will face grappler Mike Estus, who recently signed a fight deal with Shamrock FC.
CMMA's Jordan Dowdy will face his stiffest test in his young career when he faces Guilherme Vasconcelos. Vasconcelos, a jiu-jitsu black belt, competed on the UFC 175 undercard, losing to Luke Zachrich, and has quite an impressive resume.
Dowdy defeated Raymond Gray in impressive fashion in April to notch his third win and continues to improve every time you see him enter the cage. Dowdy competed on the November Bellator, losing to Adam Meredith, and will be looking for a different outcome.
For more on our analysis of the Bellator undercard please read our initial preview when matches were first announced.
Updated Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 fight card
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (36-11) vs Satoshi Ishii (14-5-1)
Michael Chandler (14-3) vs Pitbull Freire (16-7) - Bellator Lightweight Title
Matt Mitrione (9-5) vs Carl Seumantuafa (10-6)
Jordan Dowdy (3-1) vs Guilherme Vasconcelos (7-3)
Kevin Engel (5-0) vs. Chel Erwin-Davis (3-1)
Ashley Cummins (3-3) vs Nikki Smith (1-0)
Jordan Howard (9-3) vs Justin Robbins (14-17-1)
Steve Mann (11-4) vs Mike Estus (7-4)
Joaquin Buckley (5-0) vs Chris Heatherly (9-3-1)
Michelle Royer (1-0) vs Katy Collins (3-1)
Brad Jones (5-4) vs Tyler Claussen (2-2)
Jason Christenson (1-0) vs Jarrod Thomas (0-0)
Lee Burns (2-0) vs. Byron Stevens (0-0)
Garrett Mueller (2-1) vs Rashard Lovelace (3-0)
Kickboxing: Elmir Kulosman (3-0) vs. Darryl Cobb (2-1)
Amateur Kickboxing : Tara Walker (4-3-1) vs. Mimi Kutzin (3-2)
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO
Proving Grounds (Kick) | Sat, March 24th
St. Louis Prep, St. Louis, MO
Cage Champs 59 | Sat, March 31st
Big Eagles Hall, Sullivan, MO
Shamrock FC: 304 | Sat, April 7th
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO